Stuff that occurs to me

All of my 'how to' posts are tagged here. The most popular posts are about blocking and private accounts on Twitter, also the science communication jobs list. None of the science or medical information I might post to this blog should be taken as medical advice (I'm not medically trained).

Think of this blog as a sort of nursery for my half-baked ideas hence 'stuff that occurs to me'.

Contact: @JoBrodie Email: jo DOT brodie AT gmail DOT com

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Friday, 18 January 2019

Small successful example of skeptical activism - LadyCare menopause magnets

Recently I've been keeping a closer eye on the Advertising Standards Authority's (ASA) list of non-compliant online advertisers. I spotted one name had been taken off the list (LadyCare Lifetime Ltd) and was surprised to find that they hadn't been moved to the Referrals page, where persistently non-compliant advertisers are referred to Trading Standards for further action (which may include criminal proceedings). Where have they gone? I asked the ASA and they indicated that they were focusing on other things and I've not pushed it further yet.

LadyCare make magnets which are claimed to help symptoms of menopause but there doesn't appear to be a record of strong evidence to support that.  

The company had received an adjudication against their claims back in 2009 becaue of a misleading advert appearing in a newspaper. Adjudications remain on the ASA's website for five years, but in 2014 they'd additionally been added to the more serious non-compliant list.

I googled to see if I could find more information and discovered that Woman and Home magazine had, coincidentally more or less on the same day, published a reasonably favourable article about the product: The LadyCare Menopause Magnet: What is it, and does it actually work? (11 January 2019) Woman & Home

So I decided to email them and let them know about the ASA's investigation.

I found archived copies* of the first adjudication (2009) and of the non-compliant advert and sent them to the editor outlining my concerns that their article was a bit more favourable than might have been warranted, and highlighted the ASA's concerns about the marketing claims. (To be fair this product is unlikely to be particularly harmful to women - other than spending money on a product that may be unnecessary, I'm not sure it discourages people from seeing their doctor either).

Happily the editor took my concerns seriously and they've made quite a lot of changes to the article which I was pleased about. Thanks Woman and Home! They included some of the ASA's comments as well as comments from Dr Jen Gunter's blog (she was very unconvinced by the claims made for the product). They also had a couple of consumer comments, from people who'd found it ineffective but also from people who'd found a benefit.

I think it's worth sending a polite email to editors to ask them to add or amend something, it doesn't always work (but you can blog about it either way to let others know about the problem). 

*The way the ASA's website is now set up means that it's not possible for the Internet Archive / Wayback Machine to archive its later content, though earlier content is searchable. This means that you need to save copies yourself if you need to monitor a page. The link to the 'first adjudication' from 2009 is saved to the Wayback Machine whereas the second link to the 'non-compliant advert' from 2014 is just a link to the most recent cached copy that Google has. It will soon fade as the page is now gone so the next time Google checks it will find it empty and clear its own cache. I've saved a copy for my records though.





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